When we hear about the country Costa Rica we think about beautiful nature, lush green forest, exotic wildlife, blue water and breathtaking waterfalls. And we wanted to see and explore as much of these when we were heading on a road trip through Costa Rica! During our time driving all around we’ve been driving through some incredible nature and we’ve stumbled across some gorgeous waterfalls right beside the road, but we had to go in for it to see more of the impressive ones.
I remembered a blog post I read a long time ago, about this waterfall: Nauyaca Waterfalls. And we wanted to visit it and go for a dip in the plunge pool. But we just had to decide on how to get there.
There are a couple of options; you can go for a hike or go for a horseback ride. And I knew what I wanted, I just had to convince Jon (I rode for several years when I was younger and I have dreamt of going horseback riding abroad). Jon had nothing against my plans and was aboard; so then we just booked the tour while we were sitting at home planning the trip.
How to get here:
The office is located between San Isidro and Dominical; 26kms from San Isidro and 10kms from Playa Dominical. You can either choose to drive from San Isidro towards Playa Dominical or the opposite way; Playa Dominical towards San Isidro. There is plenty of signage on the road, but pay attention as it can be surprisingly easy to miss. Tour companies arrange transportation if you don’t have your own car (but we would recommend renting a car while visiting Costa Rica).
If you have no plans to join a tour you have to purchase a ticket (the fee is 8$) at the office, and if you are going on a horseback tour you also make the payment here and wait for your guide to come. We then drove down the dirt road for 2km to a parking lot (if you are hiking this is the place you have to leave your car). It’s a safe spot but there are no security so don’t leave valuables in your car, this applies to whole Costa Rica.
You have to cross a bridge and from there it’s a 4 km long hike in to the waterfalls. The trail is easy to follow but be aware that this can be very muddy, so after heavy rain bring shoes you don’t mind get dirty.
Once you get halfway there’s a restaurant where you can fill up water and grab something to eat. After this you get to the main gate to access the waterfall, and further up the trail is the entrance gate where you will need to show your ticket to the guard.
The trail splits after a few hundred meters and at this point you can find restrooms where you can change into swimwear. You now have two options: to visit the upper or lower falls. We recommend doing both; start with the upper falls and then head down to the lower falls where you can go for a swim. If you are going with a guide he can show you where it’s safe to jump if that’s something you want.
Horseback Riding Tour
As I mentioned earlier we went for the horseback tour. Reservations must be made in advance and they have horses for all ages. They prefer that you pay cash in dollars or colones, and the price is 70$ per person.
We met our guide Andres at the office and then followed him in our car down the dirt road to the parking lot and the stable where the horses were waiting for us. He went through details and wanted to know how experienced everyone was (this tour requires no previous experience), and then he decided which horse was yours for the day. When everyone was up on their horse and ready to go we sat off in an easy pace while the guide stayed in the back of the group. These horses knew were they were headed, and they were easy to handle.
We rode over the bridge, through the jungle, over small rivers… It was so quiet and it was just us; the horses surrounded by lush green forest and butterflies flying around. All we could hear was the horses hooves hitting the ground, birds singing and branches of trees creak in the wind. It was rain in the air, but it cleared up right after we started our journey into the jungle. Just in time for a great day in the jungle!
After about 45minutes we had our first stop, and it was at Don Lulo’s house where we had breakfast, and the horses knew and stopped immediately when we arrived. When the horses were tied up we went to eat. It was fresh fruit, cornbread and lemonade. They had a mini-zoo on the property with peacocks and some other animals.
After everyone had eaten, we got back on our horses and rode for 30 minutes before we arrived the falls. For those who wanted to change to swimwear did that before we walked all together to the upper falls. The waterfall is absolutely beautiful! Some was more eager to get some cool shots and wanted to walk on the rugged area to get all the way to the fall, but we already had our photos taken and wanted to head to the lower fall to cool down. We then walked down there before everyone else (great photo opportunity for us!). It was still early in the day and there was only one couple there before us (one of the benefits of joining the ride early in the morning – you’ll get there before those who choose to hike in).
The lower falls is really amazing, with rocky areas to hang out, a nice pool for swimming and if you dare you can climb up and jump from sections of the fall.
We took some photos and went for a swim, and it didn’t take too long before the rest of the group came. We hang around for a while; cooled down, relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.
On the way back we stopped by Don Lulo’s house again. For lunch they served the local Costa Rican dish called Casado; with chicken, rice, beans, salad, fried potato and tortilla.
When everyone was filled up we went for the last stretch back to the starting point.
Our final thoughts
It was really a wonderful experience and we both think this was such a unique way to explore the beauty of Costa Rica. The horses were lovely, the tour through the jungle was very relaxing, the waterfall was stunning, the food was tasty and our guide Andres was awesome. We were in a small group of 8, but I know they can take way more than that.
If you don’t feel like hiking to the fall or are just looking for something fun and different we would definitively recommend this tour!
Good to know
- Long pants is recommended
- Use sunscreen
- Bring mosquito repellent, water bottle, towel, swimwear and camera
It’s no problem to bring a backpack where you can store all your stuff, and in case of rain they have ponchos.
All photos are taken with iPhone7 or GoPro